Racing: Boutin retains Classic supremacy: Hernando's win in the Prix du Jockey-Club maintains an astonishing sequence in this year's top races for France's most successful trainer

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The Independent Online
A READING of the French Classics produces only one interpretation: that Francois Boutin remains Europe's outstanding trainer of top horses despite Andre Fabre's success with Intrepidity in the Oaks on Saturday and Henry Cecil's Derby win with Commander In Chief. Victory with Hernando in yesterday's Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) at Chantilly maintained Boutin's clean sweep of this year's French Classics after the wins of Kingmambo and Madeleine's Dream in the Longchamp equivalents of the Guineas races.

All three horses were partnered by Cash Asmussen, whose fortunes have taken a rather different route to those of Pat Eddery. For the second time in a week, Khalid Abdullah's retained rider partnered a Derby favourite that failed to fire. Regency's defeat was not as dramatic as Tenby's 10th at Epsom, but he was clearly outspeeded by the leaders in the straight and faded from the front rank into fifth position.

Eddery can at least console himself that the narrow defeat of Abdullah's Armiger by Hernando at Longchamp last month now looks a creditable performance. The jockey's dependability in defeat is also mirrored by a consistency in explanations. As with Armiger's loss, Eddery put the favourite's failure down to fidgeting with his limbs. 'The ground was too fast for him and he kept changing his legs,' Eddery said. 'He will do better with some give.'

But on this ground and on this day, it was Boutin's Hernando who triumphed, relegating two Fabre-trained runners, Dernier Empereur and Hunting Hawk, to the supporting places. Newton's Law, the sole British runner, finished fourth. Peter Chapple-Hyam, who has now saddled two Derby fourths in a week and a winner of the Italian version in White Muzzle, was understandably delighted as his charge collected pounds 29,869 for his effort.

Boutin is not in good health and Hernando's other connections were quick to praise the man who has been the most consistently successful trainer in Europe since he took out a licence in 1964. From La Lagune, through Sagaro, Nonoalco, Nureyev, April Run, Miesque and Arazi . . . Hernando would not even come close to the front rank of Boutin's big winners. Not yet anyway.

'Hernando is entered in the King George, the Irish Derby and the Champion Stakes, though I think his major objective will be the Arc,' Alan Cooper, racing manager to the winning owner, Stavros Niarchos, said. 'He is a great credit to Boutin and his team.'

Maria Niarchos, the owner's daughter, went further. 'We breed the horses, but Francois Boutin trains them and it is he who has made the Niarchos's not the Niarchos's who have made Boutin,' she said.

What made Yawl run so badly when favourite for the Oaks was the other topic under consideration yesterday. The stewards at Epsom on Saturday ordered that the filly, who beat just two home, should undergo a dope test for a performance which Darryll Holland, her rider, described as 'punch drunk'.

Barry Hills, Yawl's trainer, who on Saturday told the stewards that the filly was 'apt to get over excited', yesterday reported: 'She has eaten up and looks perky and well.' Perkier than those who backed her anyway.

(Photograph omitted)

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